The Chilean rugby union received a huge boost after the International Rugby Board (IRB) selected the nation as host for this year’s IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy. Host Chile will compete alongside teams of under 20-year-olds from Canada, Japan, Italy, Portugal, Namibia, Uruguay, and Tonga, in the hope of gaining a coveted spot in next year’s IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand.
The tournament will commence on May 28 and feature two groups of four teams that play each other once. The winner of each group plays in the final on June 9. Tensions will be high in the final as only the winners will be invited to New Zealand in 2014. All matches will be played in the Circuito Deportivo Ciudad de Antofagasta stadium.
Chile hosted the first IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in 2008, with the tournament going to Kenya, Russia, Georgia, and the United States in the years that followed.
“More than 50 players who played in that first Junior World Rugby Trophy after test-matches played for their respective countries,” IRB Tournament Director Santiago Ramallo said. “This underlines the importance of this event for the future development of the players.”
“It’s not just the players who are looking to advance their careers after the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2013. The tournament is also an opportunity for referees from different countries of the world to show their ability and develop in a strong field under high pressure,” he added.
If history is anything to go by, playing at home could prove advantageous for the Chilean team, who registered its best finish in the tournament in 2008, ending runner-up to Uruguay.
Francisco Davanzo, President of the Federación de Rugby de Chile (FERUCHI) said: “There is great excitement in Antofagasta . . . It’s a great time for Chilean rugby as it will leave a huge legacy for rugby in the region. The game continues to develop and grow. International events like this certainly help to build this huge legacy for future years.”
Chilean players in the tournament will hope to catch the eye of national squad manager, Omar Turcumán, as he assembles a squad for the qualifying campaign for the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. While Las Cóndores have never qualified for a world cup, strong results against all South American sides except for Argentina and Uruguay place Chile third in the continental rankings behind those teams.
Dates and fixtures:
Group A: Italy, Portugal, Chile, Namibia
Group B: Japan, Tonga, Canada, Uruguay
Tuesday, May 28:
Chile v Portugal
Italy v Namibia
Japan v Uruguay
Tonga v Canada
Saturday, June 1:
Portugal v Namibia
Japan v Canada
Tonga v Uruguay
Chile v Italy
Wednesday, June 5:
Canada v Uruguay
Italy v Portugal
Japan v Tonga
Chile v Namibia
Sunday, June 9:
4th Group A v 4th Group B
3rd Group A v 3rd Group B
2nd Group A v 2nd Group B
FINAL: 1st Group A v 1st Group B
For upcoming ticketing information, keep an eye on the IRB website.